Tuesday 11 July 2017

Macmillan's New Cranford Series and Illustrated Standard Novels in Dust Jackets

In 2011, I posted images of the dust jacket of my 1896 copy of Thomas Love Peacock's Gryll Grange here and here; that copy has now been donated to the Monash Library, as a part of my Thomas Love Peacock collection, but is yet to be catalogued.

Before I gave up my Peacock collection last year, I had been keeping an eye open for any more Peacock volumes from Macmillan's New Cranford Series and Illustrated Standard Novels in dust jackets or wrappers, but without any luck. I did, however, occasionally find other volumes from Macmillan’s New Cranford Series (1890–96) in dust jackets, so I thought I should do a post on them, add any images to that post which I might find in future.

Here today are the two jackets that I collected images of (two titles, two copies of the first), plus a few pictures of my old copy of Gryll Grange. The prices being asked for Cranford are eye-watering (approaching two thousand pounds), so it is not surprising that the books remain available two years after I spotted them! But the copy of Coridon’s Song is only a USD245—a bargain—I don't understand why nobody has snapped it up!

UPDATED 6 July and 28 September 2018: I have now been sent images of four more volumes from this series in their dust jackets, by a reader of this blog, so I am posting these pictures here (no.4–7 below). If any other readers of this blog care to donate more or better images, and descriptions, I'll post them too.

* * * * *

[1] Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford, With a Preface by Anne Thackeray Ritchie, illus. Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1891), large paper copy, ltd. to 300 copies; in plain red publisher's cloth with paper spine label.

[2] Austin Dobson, Coridon’s Song and Other Verses from Various Sources, Introduction by Austen Dobson, illus. By Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1894), pictorial black cloth with titles and illustration stamped in gilt, a.e.g.

[3] Thomas Love Peacock, Gryll Grange, Introduction by George Sainsbury, illus. F. H. Townsend (London: Macmillan, 1896), red cloth.

[4] Mary Russell Mitford, Our Village, illus. by Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1893).

[5] Floria Anne Steel, Tales of the Punjab, illus. Lockwood Kipling (London: Macmillan, 1894).

[6] Joseph Addison et al., Days with Sir Roger de Coverley, illus. by Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1892).

[7] Oliver Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield, Preface by Austen Dobson, illus. Hugh Thompson (London: Macmillan, 1890).

[8] Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Introduction by Austen Dobson, illus. Charles E. Brock (London: Macmillan, 1895), plain binding under illustrated dust wrapper, printed with an enlarged image of the headpiece on page 243. (Illustration from Jarndyce Catalogue, no. 234 (Winter 2018-19), item no. 21, priced at £1800.)

[Updated 13 December 2018]

Wednesday 5 July 2017

The Scale of Female Literary Merit, 1792

On 4 June 2014, Dr Jennie Batchelor did a Tweet (here) about a 1792 "Scale of Female Literary Merit" that appeared in The Lady’s Magazine; and on 15 December 2014, she did a Blog post (here) about it. The Tweet provided the year (only), the blog entry, the name of the journal plus the year and month (only). The Blog was an improvement on the Tweet, but — since the list looks useful — I wanted to know little more. So here is the "Scale" and a little more information.

The full reference for this is: "The Scale of Female Literary Merit," The Lady’s Magazine, 23 (June 1792): 290; online here. (NB: the caption in Batchelor's blog entry provides the wrong volume number.)

Batchelor's tweet seems to have prompted Melissa Sodeman to post this February 2015 blog entry titled "Measuring Up: On the vexing history of assessing women’s literary achievements", which cites an earlier newspaper article —itself a response to a yet-earlier "Scale of Genius" that had ranked male writers (full citatation: "Scale of the Female Genius of this Country in the Year MDCCXCII”, The Star (2 April 1792); not online). In fact, Sodeman had cited and reproduced The Star "Scale" in her Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), 125–26, which was published in November 2014, so she appears to have been mining her own book in response to Batchelor.

Although Batchelor undoubtedly located this "Scale" herself, as her Tweet claims, the Lady’s Magazine "Scale" was cited by Monica Cristina Soare in the same year in The Female Gothic Connoisseur: Reading, Subjectivity, and the Feminist Uses of Gothic Fiction (PhD, thesis, UC Berkeley, [Northern] Spring 2014), 136; and had been reproduced eight years earlier in the facsimile collection Women and Romanticism, 1790–1830, ed. Roxanne Eberle, 5 vols. (London: Routledge, 2006), 3.18.

So, unless I can find an even-older reference, the credit for the re-discovery and earliest mention of the "Scale" goes to Roxanne Eberle, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia.

Monday 3 July 2017

Tell me, O! Eliza Haywood!

The following quote is from the long-forgotten Richard Savage, edited, with occasional notes by Charles Whitehead, Illustrated by John Leech, Bentley’s Miscellany, vol. 8–10 (London: Richard Bentley, 1842), 9.38–39 (here):

I was silent. To say the truth, I managed that scene — for, after all, it must be so called — very awkwardly. And yet the case itself was scenic; and upon a little reflection it will be admitted that the manner of performance ought to have very little to do with the question. Tell me, O Eliza Haywood !* thou great genius of modern fiction! thou, who knowest, or sayest thou dost know, all the passions and feelings that work or play in the bosom of mankind, (would that thou wouldst depict them better!), tell me what ought to have been done upon that occasion, and how?
  I was silent, I have said; but at length I answered …

* Eliza Haywood, although now nearly forgotten, attained during her life-time to an enviable celebrity. Pope, in his Dunciad, has heaped terrible infamy upon her head. Her plays I have not seen; but I have looked into her novels — of which ‘The History of Betsy Thoughtless’ and ‘Jenny and Jemmy Jessamy’ are the most considerable. They possess no common degree of merit, but are altogether unfit for modern perusal.

Whitehead's serialised novel, the Introduction to which claimed that is was an "autobiographical memoir" (8.20), was reprinted in Bentley's Standard Novels, without notes, re-written and with the ending changed (!—according to Royal Gettmann here), as Richard Savage. A Romance of Real Life, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1842), with the quote at 2.63–64 (here); it was reprinted, again without notes, and with further edits, including the removal of the paragraph mentioning Haywood, Richard Savage. A Romance of Real Life, A New Edition, with an introduction by Harvey Orrinsmith (London: Richard Bentley, 1896), with the relevant section on page 185 (here).

In a biography of 1884 (in the title of which he was already being described as "A Forgotten Genius"), H. T. Mackenzie Bell describes Richard Savage as "unquestionably Whitehead's greatest work" and repeats the claim of one "Miss Hogarth … that she had often heard Dickens speak with 'great admiration' of the novel Richard Savage" (H. T. Mackenzie Bell, A Forgotten Genius: Charles Whitehead: A Critical Monograph (London 1884; 2nd ed., with some additional material, 1894), 24; online here).

Charles Whitehead was born 4 September 1804, left for Australia 1857 and died in Melbourne Hospital, 5 July 1862. Since this makes Whitehead an honourary Australian, a Melbournian in fact, the Australian Dictionary of Biography contains an entry for him (here), but the National Library of Australia contains only one, incomplete poem of his in manuscript (an attack on H. F. Watts, editor of the Melbourne Argus, sent to Bell by James Smith, editor of the Australasian) and copies of his "greatest work" are scarce in Australian libraries (only three copies of each of the 1842 and 1896 editions). According to the ADB, Whitehead was an alcoholic, impoverished and sometimes homeless; his wife was "mentally deranged" and had died in 1860, he "was picked up exhausted in the street," died (at aged 58) and "was buried in a pauper's grave."

Whitehead's romantic biography of Savage is one of many fictionalised accounts of the writer but—as far as I know—the only one which mentions Haywood, even in passing. Although Whitehead was probably right that, in 1842, Haywood was "now nearly forgotten"—it is nevertheless amusing that he refers to her as such, since even the great John Leech and the justly celebrated Bentley's Standard Novels have not kept his own work from being even more forgotten than Haywood's works were at the time. Likewise, although it is nice to have a record of a Haywood reader from this period ("I have looked into her novels … They possess no common degree of merit"), his peroration (that they are "altogether unfit for modern perusal") is what has landed him a place on my Wall of Shame.

Sunday 2 July 2017

Books I never considered indecent, 1836

On 24 October 1836, Selim Cohen was again indicted for stealing at least a dozen books from William Holmes. During his cross-examination, Holmes (who been a bookseller for twenty-six years, and had two shops) reveals his thoughts concerning books which he considered indecent, or not: mostly not.

It seems that Holmes was familiar with a great many books that were usually concidered obscene at the time, and had twice been imprisoned for seditious libels, which may be why Cohen was found not guilty, though it is clear that he stole the books. Since each dash indicates an omitted question, it is quite difficult to understand exactly what was going on in the Old Bailey Proceedings, and how deep a hole Holmes was digging for himself by lying about his past, his activites, being corrected in questioning etc. But I am guessing that, in the same that the copyright laws at the time would not protect you from piracy, if the work concerned was judged to be obscene (which is what happened with Byron's Cain), property laws did not protect you from theft of books judged to be obscene, and the judge may have let Cohen off for this reason.

* * * * *

Testimony of WILLIAM HOLMES: The house I live in and rent is in Holywell-street—the other shop is in Princess-street … memorandum-books are sold in the shop in Princess-street, but no indecent publications—there are not more than one or two engravings there [Princess-street]—in the Holywell-street shop there are some engravings, decent ones, such as may be shown in any window with perfect safety to the morals of the community—that I swear—I dare say the Adventures of an Irish Smock has been sold—I do not know whether I have it for sale—there may be books in that shop that I do not know of—I know a book called Fanny Hill—I believe there is a copy of it in the shop—I have seen a more indecent publication than that, it is a book called Frisky Songs—I bought a copy of that from the prisoner for 1s., to sell again—I cannot mention a more indecent book, and that I sold, but it was not in the shop—it was in my pocket, and not in the shop—I have sold about two or three dozen copies of Fanny Hill—the one I sell is not the most indecent book next to the one I mentioned—I sold the Frisky Songs because I did not with to keep it—I bought it to sell to another bookseller—I know a book called the Female Husband—it is not an immoral book—it is a woman who personated a man, and married several woman—a narrative of what she did is given in it—I should call it her amours—I do not think they are indecent—I do not consider that or the Fanny Hill I sell, are indecent works—I sell Aristotle's Masterpiece—that is considered a medical book—I never considered it indecent—it treats of the differences of the sexes, and of the operations in the womb—I think it does not treat of the operation of getting children—I have read it—I do not think it more indecent than any other medical book—I sell a work called The Poet—I think there are some in the shop—I think it is not an indecent book—it treats of the amours of a Frenchman and woman—there is a frontispiece to the Female Husband—it is a male and female in bed, covered up, and person entering the room.

In sum:

  • Frisky Songs—"I cannot mention a more indecent book"; it is "more indecent" than Fanny Hill
  • Fanny Hill—"I do not think [it is] indecent"
  • Female Husband—"not an immoral book"; "I do not think [it is] indecent"
  • Aristotle's Masterpiece—"I never considered it indecent", no more "indecent than any other medical book"
  • The Poet—"I think it is not an indecent book"
  • Adventures of an Irish Smock—[not characterised]

  • A few notes: Fanny Hill requires no explanation; The Female Husband is Henry Fielding's account of a notorious 18th-century case of lesbian cross-dressing; Aristotle's Masterpiece is a popular sex manual and midwifery book; I am not familiar with The Poet, and it is the sort of title that defies Google-searching!

    Frisky Songs could be any one of a number of similarly-titled (and now, mostly lost) songsters of the variety included in my Bawdy Songbooks of the Romantic Period (2011). The closest title-match is one we did not include: Wilson's frisky songster: the most spicy collections of all the new double entendre, flash and spreeish songs, now singing at the cidar cellars, Coal Hole, Evans's, and all convivial parties (London: John Wilson, n.d. [ca.1830]), which is held in the library at Bateman's, a 17th-century house in East Sussex where Rudyard Kipling lived, and which was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1939.

    Adventures of an Irish Smock (1782) is a mysterious erotic work, which I have recently located a copy of in an obscure German library. The full title given in the following advertisement gives a better idea of its contents:

    The Adventures of an Irish Smock. Interspersed with ludicrous Anecdotes of a Nankeen Pair of Breeches. Containing, among a great variety of curious connections between the most celebrated Demi-reps and Beaux Garçons upon the Ton. private Intrigues of Lady W—y and Mrs. N—n, never before published; with the whimsical Frolicks of Boarding School Misses, and the Christmas and other Gambols of Maids of Honour. Being a proper companion, particularly at this season, for all men of taste and gallantry, and all females of spirit and intrigue.

    And this is what the reviewers had to say:

    The Critical Review: One of those pernicious incentives to vice that are a scandal to decency. A common pander, who confines his infamous occupation to the service of the stews, is less injurious to society than such prostituted miscreants as devote their time and attention to corrupt the imaginations of youth. The most ignominious punishment prescribed by our laws is infinitely too slight for offences of so heinous a nature; The English Review: The volume is an indecent and impure farrago; and it would be of service to the community, could a summary method be invented to suppress publications calculated to inflame the youth of both sexes and encourage vice, sensuality, and licentiousness; The Monthly Review: This publication is equally remarkable for its stupidity and obscenity.

    It is enough to make you want to read the book, no?

    * * * * *

    The following section of testimony provides some details of Holmes's scrapes with the law; if you want to read more, see here for the full Old Bailey Proceedings.

    Testimony of WILLIAM HOLMES: I have not been all that time [23yrs] in London—I travel in the country—I go to Lincoln sometimes … I have always lived in my own house, or my mother's or my master's, at Lincoln—I was once taken, and slept in jail, but a thing may slip one's memory—that slipped my memory—it was so trifling—I was in jail about a fortnight, till I could procure a sum of money—I was sent there for deserting my wife—I was in jail in town for publishing seditious libels—the first was a letter to Lord Castlereagh, published by Griffiths, in Holborn—I went to jail for six months for that—the second was a letter to the Reformers of England, published by Carlile—I staid in jail two years for that—I think there is no other time—I will swear I have never been in any other jail, or on any other charges than those you have mentioned—nor taken up for any thing else—I am not one of Mr. Carlile's disciples—I believe the Scriptures, and read them in jail the first time I was there—I got into jail again for selling in Mr. Carlile's shop—I always said it was my wife's fault that I got into jail the first time—the Magistrates were kind enough not to commit me, but not gave me time to raise the money—they sent me to Lincoln jail—I did pay the money—because I was too poor—I know perfectly well my wife could procure nutriment from my friends at Lincoln.

    In sum: Holmes was in gaol for

  • "about a fortnight" six months in Lincoln gaol for "for deserting my wife" publishing "a letter to Lord Castlereagh, published by Griffiths, in Holborn"
  • two years for selling, in Mr. Carlile's shop, "a letter to the Reformers of England, published by Carlile"